Home Sweet Home: Create Your Own Island

August 1st, 2016

kitchenislandBy: Cathy Osoria

A kitchen island is a relatively modern addition to the kitchen. It is named an island as it is a free standing area typically at the center of the kitchen that is used to add a little additional working space to the kitchen. An island can be the heart of the kitchen whether square, L shaped or rectangular, and it can bring an entirely new appearance to the kitchen. Islands can be secondary cooking and prep stations, and surfaces selected for the island top can make cooking less complicated.

Chopping vegetables on a butcher block top or making pastries on slick marble makes for a quicker clean up after the food prep.  Everyone can use more area to serve their guests food and beverages when entertaining. The main entree, desserts or veggies on serving trays and platters can all fit and be displayed on the newly created island top. Seat space is consistently short in a kitchen so the kitchen island is a method for adding working space, appliance stations and maybe even bonus storage. Kitchen islands with seating add a great deal of convenience.  They even may be used as a dinner table and are great places for kids to do homework.

It is a good idea to consider the kind of seating that is preferred before the island is installed as different kinds of seats will need  different heights and overhangs of the island top. An island can bring in other accent materials into the kitchen space to inspire a more interesting look.  The base of the furniture can be reclaimed wood orshelves with baskets or crates or a contrasting paint color from existing cabinets. The island top could be stainless steel, marble, granite, concrete or wood and can coordinate yet be different from existing counter tops to add interest.

There are portable and fixed kitchen islands.  The fixed model is built into the kitchen floor and after installed cannot be moved or modified easily.  It is built into the home so it can be shaped to be more customized to the kitchen size and offers the option of having plumbing or electricity built into this structure. Plumbing can accommodate a dishwasher, main sink or a smaller vegetable sink.

Electricity comes in handy for plugs and appliances that can be an island addition like a microwave, warming drawer, oven or stove.  Installing pull out trash cans,cooking utensil and spice drawers and pop up mixer cabinet will make one wonder how he/she made it this long without an island.

The portable kitchen island is an island that can be moved to different locations possibly when entertaining or moved nearer to the stove or sink when prepping food. It is an excellent alternative when there is limited space in the kitchen. It can be wheeled wherever it is needed. It can have the exact same characteristic as an island that is fixed such as an excellent table top made of wood, stainless steel or marble. It provides extra storage for wine, cook books, dishes, cooking utensils, linens or pots and pans. The bonus feature of a portable island is the possibility of moving it outside when entertaining.

Portable islands can be custom built to your specifications just like a fixed island or pre built ones may be purchased at a furniture store or online.  Even if pre built, they can be modified by adding towel bars for kitchen towels or painted an accent color or a different top may be purchased to add to the standard island but customized to make it fit the current space and needs.

Islands are functional, attractive additions to the home that can be the center of attention and family gatherings.

Home Sweet Home: To reupholster or not to reupholster?

April 1st, 2015

cathy2By Cathy Osoria

Some furniture is not built for a second life.  It may not be structurally sound enough for the expense of reinvesting.  If the furniture has a well-made-frame and classic style and shape, then it is probably worth the investment.  Older furniture with dowel joints, kiln dried wood, and feather stuffing tends to be of higher quality.  Reupholstering can be costly, especially if the frame and/or springs need repairing or the padding needs to be replaced. If all of that is in good shape, the cost will only be the fabric and labor.  The type of cushions and the filling can make a huge difference in the price, the comfort, and the life of a sofa.  A down and feather sofa cushion can cost around $650. A foam cushion runs about $75. Down is very comfortable but compresses rapidly and does not hold its shape for long.  It needs refluffing to look good.  This is why a combination of feathers and foam works best for price and retaining shape.  A foam cushion with a down feather wrap is what this combination is called.  For both seat and back cushions the ratio of 60 percent down to 40 percent feathers is perfect for comfort.

Fabric is another costly expense in reupholstering.  Some fabrics have lined strong backing which makes the fabric more durable and does not stretch in shape as easily. These are usually considered upholstery weight. A fabric that is thin and easily tears is going to need reupholstering much sooner.  A fabric with more synthetic content is easier to clean and more durable in the presence of children and pets than a cotton or linen natural fiber fabric. The cost of reupholstering varies.  It is best to either text or take a picture to a local upholsterer and to obtain several bids.If possible, look at the work they have done that might still be in their shop.  They can also provide the amount of fabric needed to recover that piece.  If slip covering the furniture is being considered, always wash the fabric before it is given to the upholsterer.  If it is not prewashed, the covers will have massive shrinkage and will not fit after cleaning (even dry-cleaning).

Shape and style need to be classic and timeless.  The frame of the piece can be altered some.  Rounded arms can be made straight. Seat back height can be raised or lowered; cushion shape can be altered; and legs come in a variety of lengths and heights.  If the shape is not pleasing and appears dated, then reupholstering is not the answer. Many people hold on to a piece of furniture for sentimental reasons so maybe changing the shape or legs can help it work in the space better.

Reupholstering can add details or remove details that previously existed.  Tucks can be added to the back or seat of a chair or bench, or if the furniture has tucks they can be removed.  The same piece of furniture can appear totally different depending on the changes that should be discussed with the upholsterer before the final decision is made.

There are unbelievable Internet deals and furniture store sales that make it easy to find upholstered furniture bargains.  My tendency is to purchase new pieces because I am usually trying to update a room with shape and new fabrics, and I typically do not have an existing frame that is worth the money and effort to restore it.  I do appreciate the value of a piece that is timeless and sturdy and can be salvaged with a bit of stuffing and fabric.

Home Sweet Home: The Power of Paint

October 1st, 2014

greencabOne of the most rewarding and cost-effective household projects is reviving an old piece of furniture with a fresh coat of paint.

By Cathy Osoria

Use an existing piece of furniture that is around your home or head to a local thrift shop and search for a piece to refurbish.

The newly painted piece will be a one of a kind and can be a perfect “pop” of color. With so many colors to choose from, one should be able to coordinate with an existing color scheme. When choosing the piece to paint, consider that some furniture can be used in many different rooms and with multiple purposes.

An example of this is a wood buffet. A buffet can be a storage dresser in a bedroom, an entry piece with a lamp, a sideboard in a kitchen, a television stand, and maybe used as a baby changing table if the legs are shortened. Choosing a color can be the most creative part of the process. Brighter colors and colors that contrast sharply with the walls and other furnishings will draw attention to a piece and make it the focus of the room, while lighter colors will help a piece blend in.

Preparing the piece to paint is important in order for the paint to adhere and last longer.  First, remove any necessary hardware from the furniture. Patch any holes, chips or seams in the wood with wood fill.  Sand the surface of the furniture with fine grit sandpaper or liquid sander deglosser. Wipe sanding dust with a clean cloth. Prime the piece using a brush or spray paint.

Not all pieces need primer. If you want a distressed look, then primer may not be necessary. After the piece is primed, lightly sand again, then start painting using the chosen color. Scrubable latex paint is a good choice because clean up can be with soap and water; dry time is faster than oil based paint, and there is no or low odor.

pinkcabinetAmy Howard is a paint that is found in specialty stores (Ooh’s and Aah’s in Webster), and it comes in fantastic colors and requires no primer and not much preparation. This paint can also be used to paint fabric. To paint fabric, the paint is diluted in half and brushed onto fabric then lightly sanded with fine grit paper. The results are amazing and worth trying before money is spent to reupholster the piece.

Multiple colors of paint may be used to create interest on a piece or to accent trim or doors. The outside of a hutch can be one color and the inside an accent color.  A pattern can be painted or new hardware added  to  make the furniture more appealing. A dresser can be spruced up with bright chalk board paint (chalk paint now comes in many colors, not just black). When the dresser is completed, then take chalk and write on the drawer fronts what’s located in that drawer. Kids love this idea which also encourages organization.
A traditional carved brown wood coffee table can be painted a bright color like royal blue. The unexpected color is a fun contrast to its otherwise traditional lines. Paint is inexpensive — the worst that could happen is sanding may be needed if drips occur. Or you can repaint the piece entirely if the color isn’t satisfactory. Don’t be afraid to just jump into a paint project. The product can be a unique piece with a little time and effort and not much money.

Bay Area Houston Magazine